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Annihilator – Triple Threat


Annihilator – Triple Threat

If you are into thrash metal, then you would have undoubtedly heard of Annihilator. They are one of Canada’s ‘Big 4’ thrash metal bands; having had a career spanning from 1984, with the legendary ‘Alice in Hell’ album in 1989, up to 2015’s ‘Suicide Society’. They have just completed a European tour (which I unfortunately missed) and are now currently on a US tour, before setting to work on their sixteenth studio album.

‘Triple Threat’ is their latest compilation album to tantalise the ears in the meanwhile, which will be released on January 27th by UDR Music. It is a three disc collection, with acoustic favourites on one CD, their entire set from 2016’s Bang Your Head festival on another, and a mini-documentary shot in 2016 too; available on four different versions which are DVD/2CD, Blu-Ray/2CD, 2CD audio only and digital download. The documentary will include a glimpse into the life behind the scenes of Annihilator – courtesy of Jeff Waters himself – that will capture all the elements that make up this epic band.

So, enough with the spiel and into the nitty-gritty of this intriguing release. Initially the track listings were slightly messed up, so I embarked on renaming them correctly… Only for my MP3 player to have a rack attack and not accept my renamed files. My OCD is going crazy, I assure you.

The acoustic scenario is just sublime, and immediately delights the section starts with Bad Child – it sounds like Annihilator but not as we have ever known them before. There’s a little nuance of blues style guitar in there, mixed with some seriousness, but mainly comedy – but then Annihilator have never had a fully serious hat on (the Chicken and Corn bonus track as a prime example…).

Innocent Eyes is up next and is beautifully honest in its representation. It remains a faithful acoustic rendition of the already gentle original – with Jeff continuing to carry out his ballads with a ton of heart and soul. This is one of my favourite ever tracks of Annihilator and to hear it gifted with the acoustic treatment so honestly really warms my heart.

Snake in the Grass is another favourite of mine, and the band takes a slightly less serious slant with this one; which makes me feel ambivalent – I love their fun side, but this track is a personal fave and I would have liked to hear a more serious rendition. But that’s just my opinion. Following on from Snake In The Grass are Fantastic Things and Holding On, which are both represented faithfully, and Holding On is just gorgeous to hear in acoustic flavour – another Jeff Waters ballad special.

Stonewall is absolutely superb, and the track takes on an entirely new lease of life when it is done acoustically – the lyrics about politics and the disease of the human race blighting Earth stark and even more full of meaning in this format. In the Blood is another favourite of mine, and along with Innocent Eyes, is another ballad that the acoustic format has done perfect justice for. The distinct backing vocals have also been kept on, really adding to one of my favourite tracks on the acoustic section.

Crystal Ann, Phoenix Rising and Sounds Good to Me rounds off the slab of acoustic offering this release provides, with Sounds Good To Me being my clear favourite of the three. It is an utterly delightful rendition of the song with a cracking solo, and is an astonishing track in acoustic form. It actually gave me chills it was that good. Phoenix Rising was however not so great, disappointingly, with another of my favourite tracks not quite given the justice it should have been given.

Onto the ‘Bang Your Head 2016’ section, and the listener is thrust straight into the explosive set with a gory narrative of a homicide victim, Travis Alexander, before No Way Out from ‘Feast’ thunders out of the speakers. It truly is Annihilator on form, the track from their 2013 album bursting with energy which perfectly encapsulates their live shows.

There is a an almost seamless link into the next track, with Jeff providing some commentary about the concert and the strength of the acts that were there that year – such as Sodom, Battle Beast, DragonForce, Slayer and Udo Dirkschneider – before the long intro into Creeping Again; a track from the latest album ‘Suicide Society’ which is delivered fast and heavy with snarling vocals.

A glut of classic Annihilator tracks then follow from the new record with such dynamite gems like Set The World on Fire, WTYD, Never Neverland and Second to None. All are played extremely well, staying faithful to the original tracks; Set The World on Fire a clear stand-out record for me. The savagery of this track is amplified by hearing it live, which also captures the true brutal essence of the song – and the balls-out solo is just fantastic. WTYD and Never Neverland are also recreated faithfully, though Second to None has a nice little surprise ending which was a great treat.

The onslaught of classic Annihilator continues, with Refresh the Demon, my all-time favourite Alison Hell, Crystal Ann, and King of the Kill. Refresh the Demon is introduced with the sound bites from the album of the same name, with the demon flicking through the sanctimonious, vacuous drivel on TV before the beast is truly unleashed, slamming into this awesome fast track, the ‘Bang Your Head’ performance truly epitomising live Annihilator in its most honest form. Alison Hell is a fantastic rendition of the fan-favourite track and King of the Kill never fails to entertain, with its hammering riff and snarling vocals.

The BYH set list is finished off with the timeless Phantasmagoria from the classic ‘Never Neverland’ album of 1990; the slick and fast guitars ripping through the speakers as Annihilator close their set with this explosive finale. All songs have been performed closely to their originals from the studio albums, and just benefit even more from being played live – performing live is just one of the many things Annihilator thrives at. The ‘Bang Your Head’ section truly captures the energy of a live Annihilator show, and gives the listener a hint at just how talented all members of Annihilator are. Live shows are often pulled off without a hitch, and with the charming Jeff Waters at the helm, it is easy to see why.

‘Triple Threat’ is a must have for any Annihilator fan, and I for one will be anticipating the purchase of my own blu-ray/2CD edition. I do however hope they have the track listing sorted by then!

If you are new to Annihilator, check out the albums ‘Alice in Hell’, ‘Never Neverland’, ‘Set the World of Fire’, ‘Carnival Diablos’ and ‘Metal for a taste of what this band is truly capable of – which makes the sixteenth studio album highly anticipated indeed.

Niki Flynn

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